Our most important goal is to nurture friendly, as I like to call them, brotherly relations between our peoples. I don’t think two nations in the world understand each other better.
We have talked with Professor Dragan J. Milić, MD, FACS, Director of Clinic for Cardiovascular and Transplant Surgery of the Clinical Centre in Niš and President of the Serbian-Israeli Friendship Society, about the Israeli Embassy’s donations, the Blood Bank and the relations between Serbian and Israeli people.
The Embassy of the State of Israel in Serbia and H.E. Ambassador Yahel Villan have donated a respirator to the Cardiovascular Surgery Clinic in Niš. How important is such a donation for you and the Clinic?
Such donations are primarily important for our patients, but also, of course, for all of us who work at the Cardiovascular Surgery Clinic of the University Medical Centre in Niš. Medicine has advanced greatly in the last few decades, and today it is unthinkable to treat patients without the latest equipment that provides accurate diagnosis and treatment, especially for the most complex diseases. Our Clinic is important because we are the only clinic south of Belgrade that performs cardiac surgery and organ transplants, with about 2 million people living in southeastern Serbia gravitating toward us. The respirator arrived amidst the coronavirus pandemic, when it was very difficult to get this equipment due to the great demand for it worldwide. The whole world was focused on the pandemic and somehow forgot about those patients who had other serious conditions that required urgent treatment.
The Israeli Embassy has also donated equipment for the Blood Bank. When is the Bank going to become operational?
The Blood Bank is by far the most important project we have been working on together with the Israeli Embassy and H.E. Ambassador Yahel Villan. This will be the first blood bank south of Belgrade. The equipment we got is absolutely the best in the world and it will be a real pleasure to work with it. We have just been informed by the supplier that the last, that is the third piece of equipment, will arrive next week, which means that, technically speaking, the Blood Bank will become operational in mid-May. Taking into account other details that we need to solve after installing the equipment, it is realistic to expect that the Blood Bank will be open in June or July at the latest when we are planning the grand opening. According to the decision made by our Clinic’s Board, the Blood Bank will be named after David Albala, a great Serbian patriot and Zionist from the First World War.
The Blood Bank is by far the most important project we have been working on together with the Israeli Embassy and H.E. Ambassador Yahel Villan.
David Albala, who declared himself a Serb of the Moses’ faith, was born in Belgrade and graduated medicine in Vienna, after which he joined the Serbian army as a military doctor. He took part in the Balkan wars and First World War when he crossed Albania with the remnants of the Serbian army and barely survived typhoid. Albala was promoted to captain soon after and received numerous decorations by the Kingdom of Serbia. He was a great Zionist and a fighter for Jewish rights. Unfortunately, little is known about the fact that the Kingdom of Serbia was the first country in the world to support the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which, for the first time in history, recognized the right of Jews to have their national home or state. It was David Albala, a Serb of the Moses’ faith and a captain of the Serbian Army, who handed over a letter to the World Zionist Congress in New York written and signed on behalf of the Kingdom of Serbia by Ambassador Milenko Vesnić in which the state of Israel had its first official mention. No better example in our history symbolizes the incredible understanding and support that Serbs and Jews have shown towards each other. This was so pronounced that Jews in Serbia, during that period, declared themselves as Serbs of the Moses’ faith. Almost all of them joined the Serbian army during the First World War, when close to 40% of the adult male Jewish population died along with Serbs defending their homeland from the occupiers. In honour of David Albala, the Blood Bank will bear his name, and we will also unveil his memorial bust that will be located in front of our clinic run, which was made by Dragan Drobnjak, the sculptor from Prokuplje.
How important is the Blood Bank for the University Medical Centre in Niš and the south of Serbia in general?
The basic idea is to help the patient to heal as quickly and as well as possible. In that sense, the Blood Bank serves for storage and dispensing of blood and blood-based products, pre-transfusion tests where we check blood groups, screening of irregular antibodies, issuing and monitoring of the therapy’s effects and the precise and correct determination of therapy.
With the help of specific coagulation and hemostasis tests, we will be able to administer a targeted therapy and treat the patient in the best possible way.
We want to avoid an empirical approach whereby we give two units of blood and wait to see what happens. Now, with the help of specific coagulation and hemostasis tests, we will be able to administer a targeted therapy and treat the patient in the best possible way, respecting the principles of good clinical and laboratory practice while ensuring the best possible outcome for the patient.
You are the president of the Serbian-Israeli Friendship Society. What are the Society’s main goals?
Our most important goal is to nurture friendly, as I like to call them, brotherly relations between our peoples. I don’t think two nations on this planet understand each other better and who shared such a tragic destiny. Throughout history, both the Jewish and Serbian people have gone through the horrors of denial, persecution and killing. During the Second World War, the Serbian and Jewish people, along with the Roma, suffered from the horrors of genocide in this part of the world, and it was this suffering that brought our peoples even closer together and made us stronger. The Jews have left a deep mark on Serbia’s culture, politics and economy. Throughout history, there has been only a complete understanding and alliance between our two nations that lasts to this day. Our friendship society also wants to preserve, nurture and further improve these relationships that were built by our ancestors.
As someone quite familiar with the relations between the two countries, how would you assess the direction in which our relations are moving?
This year, we are celebrating 30 years since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Serbia and Israel, and I can say with great pleasure that our relations are getting stronger and more meaningful, that are full of understanding with impressive mutual support. This is also true of the economic, political and military cooperation, as well as the cooperation in culture and science, which is especially important for me personally. I must say that this is a result of great invested energy and many activities, as well as the personal engagement of the Ambassador of Israel to Serbia, H.E. Yahel Villan, who has been working tirelessly to bring our two nations and countries closer.